Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Andrea Barrett on feeling at home in the world

I'm thinking a lot about writing today, and the process, and happened across this passage in a Paris Review interview with Andrea Barrett. 

Sure. I’ve never known a writer who didn’t feel ill at ease in the world. Have you? We all feel unhoused in some sense. That’s part of why we write. We feel we don’t fit in, that this world is not our world, that though we may move in it, we’re not of it. Different experiences in our lives may enforce or ameliorate that, but I think if they ameliorate it totally, we stop writing. You don’t need to write a novel if you feel at home in the world. We write about the world because it doesn’t make sense to us. Through writing, maybe we can penetrate it, elucidate it, somehow make it comprehensible. If I had ever found the place where I was perfectly at home, who knows what I would have done? Maybe I would have been a biologist after all. No great loss if that had been the case, but it didn’t work out that way.

I think she nails it. 

Yesterday I was dealing with the Housing Office at my son's university, a man in a white truck who was probably casing our neighborhood, the Army Corps of Engineers asking for a public hearing about coal ash dumping and its impact on the environment, and a group that has formed to take on a big development nightmare encroaching close by. 

All of which center around the notion of home.

None of which made sense to me. 

Today I start the writing part of a new novel. Not a moment too soon.


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

I was wondering if the coal ash debacle was affecting your area. We're gathering the troops re offshore drilling down here at the moment.

I lived in Houston for a while going to college, and the trips we took to nearby Galveston Beach soured me on offshore drilling.

Every beach house had a tub of solvent to "wash" your feet before you came in, because invariably they would be spattered by the tar balls covering the beach and floating in the ocean. Ruined bathing suits were a matter of course. Not to mention the effect on wildlife.

Good luck!

billie said...

Ugh - I'm not a supporter of offshore drilling either! We are dealing with the coal ash issue plus fracking plus big development right now. I could go to meetings several nights a week if I had the time but am trying to focus my energies on getting the word out and writing to all the various people who need to hear from those of us who live where this stuff will be.

Can't wait for a more environmentally aware legistlature and governor.

Matthew said...

Never really thought deeply about this. The artist creating because of discontent, the desire to manifest something better.


billie said...

I am fascinated by the creative process in general and I feel strongly that all of us, whether we consider ourselves "artists" or not, have a creative process weaving through out lives. If we examine it and nurture it I think we have more satisfaction and a stronger sense of belonging.